This Washington

Women Sue McKenna Over His Opposition to Health Care Law

By Erica C. Barnett May 3, 2012

This morning, a group of more than 90 women announced that they are suing state Attorney General Rob McKenna, who is challenging the federal Affordable Care Act, charging that if the act is overturned, they will lose many guaranteed benefits, including contraception coverage, screenings for breast and cervical cancer, and the elimination of lifetime caps on coverage. "I didn't get cancer for political reasons, and I haven't just done 20 months in treatment for a governor's race."---Melissa Mackey, plaintiff in today's lawsuit against AG and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.

The lawsuit argues that McKenna violated his ethical duties as an attorney by pushing for the entire health-care law to be overturned; that McKenna should be forced to file a corrective pleading with the US Supreme Court saying that he only opposes the individual mandate aspect of the health care law, which requires every US citizen to get insurance; and that the court should find McKenna guilty of issuing "false and misleading statements" about the health care law because he claimed that his lawsuit was aimed not at overturning the entire act, but only at eliminating the individual mandate.

"That's one of the most serious breaches of ethical duties that a lawyer can make," the plaintiffs' attorney, Knoll Lowney, said. "In fact, it's often reason for disbarment."

Lead plaintiff Melissa Mackey, a 38-year-old survivor of breast cancer who went through a double mastectomy and 20 months of chemotherapy treatments, said that if there was a lifetime cap on coverage, she would have been unable to receive treatment.

"Cancer was not in my plans," Mackey said. "I would not be alive right now if not for the Affordable Care Act."

Asked whether the timing of the lawsuit was political---McKenna, of course, is running for governor against Democratic former Congressman Jay Inslee, and Lowney sued 2008 Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for allegedly colluding with the Building Industry Association of Washington---Mackey responded, "I don't care who's governor; I don't care who's attorney general. ... I didn't get cancer for political reasons, and I haven't just done 20 months in treatment for a governor's race."

Lowney added: "The governor's race is so insignificant compared to the stakes in the US Supreme Court that the question [of whether the lawsuit is timed to coincide with the governor's race] almost makes no sense."

Another plaintiff, Karah Pino, said she had been disabled by a car accident and that her health and car insurance weren't enough to cover her bills, said that she's been counting down the days until 2014, when the health-care act will provide her with coverage. Currently, she said, she stays home with her son and relies on Medicaid, which does not allow her to earn more than $900 a month.

"When Attorney General Rob McKenna  filed suit against the Affordable Care Act, I found myself feeling extremely vulnerable again, unsure of what would happen to me if the law was overturned by the Supreme Court," Pino said. "With so many threats to Medicaid, I am uncertain that I can depend on it either. I would like to go back to work---I still have dreams of being a small biz owner---but I am trapped."

This afternoon, McKenna issued a statement in response to the lawsuit. Calling the women "shrill" (!) and their lawsuit "laughable" (!!), McKenna spokesman Randy Pepple said,

This frivolous lawsuit is just another in a long, sad line of attempts by Congressman Jay Inslee to change the subject of the 2012 campaign away from his lack of solutions for solving the problems facing Washington State.  Today’s press conference adds to the constant barrage of shrill attacks that Congressman Inslee and his allies have launched at Rob McKenna in an attempt to distract voter attention away from the failures of the last eight years of one-party control in Olympia.

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